“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
“This is a story about a woman who was erased from her job as the editor of the most famous literary magazine in America.” For Longreads, A.N. Devers writes about Brigid Hughes, the second editor of The Paris Review, who has been all but scrubbed from the magazine’s history. See also: Dever’s 2011 Year in Reading entry.
Two Sides of the Book Biz in Britain: A small press specializing in works in translation is seeing success thanks to uniquely personal approach… while the big presses are teaming with supermarket chains in a race to the bottom.
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.
This Splitsider interview with Clarissa Explains It All creator Mitchell Kriegman is fantastic. Among the many revelations that come out of the interview is this gem: “The most amazing person that you would never guess worked on the show was [The Hunger Games author] Suzanne Collins. She was the quietest, nicest person. Like having JK Rowling working on your show!”
New this week are Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James’ Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there’s Lou Beach’s 420 Characters: “these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates.” On the nonfiction side, there’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
“Everything on the surface of the world is so chaotic right now, so there’s a desire to access a place that’s more uncharted.” The New York Times profiles author Melissa Broder and her new novel, The Pisces (which was part of our Great 2018 Book Preview).